Flame On!

Absolutely fabulous Pride anthems to add to your playlist this season

Pride season approaches, and before you decide what to wear (we’re already working on our wardrobe), do yourself a favor and load up some gay anthems on your playlist. For years the community has compiled a discography of music which–unofficially, anyway–speaks to the pleasure, the pain and the pride of living out loud.

Granted, the hymns of the gay church are not limited to the songs listed here, and music gods willing, artists will continue to grace the world with tunes that speak to the LGBT.

Before hitting up the festivals, the brunches, the parades and the parties, cue up these ditties for some rainbow rocking out…

1. Lady Gaga – Born This Way

Lady Gaga had already earned the nickname “Lady Gay-gay” and come out as bisexual when she released this song, which cemented her icon status for all time.

2. Christina Aguilera, Pink, Mya & Lil Kim – Lady Marmalade

Who could supplant gay icon Patti LaBelle’s version of the soul classic? Try four gay icons, each dressed like a drag queen hooker, in a video promoting a movie musical.

3. Cher – Turn Back Time

How can we pick just one Cher song to feature here? Easy, check out that outfit. Also, check out those sailors…

4. Sylvester – Do You Wanna Funk

Disco drag queen Sylvester crooned out this sexy anthem back in 1982. Besides capping off the disco craze of the 70s, it also introduced “funk” as a euphemism for a more vulgar term.

5. La Cage Au Folles – I Am What I Am

We were going to include Gloria Gaynor’s version of the popular show tune here, though, given the recent reevaluation of her icon status, we’ve decided to credit out-gay composer Jerry Herman’s musical instead. With that in mind, check out gay performer John Barrowman’s version, and prepare to open up your closets.

6. Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance with Somebody

Sister Whitney, we miss you, and never more than when we all dance to this awesome pop tune.

Related: Lady Gaga took a fan’s pride flag at a concert & magic happened

7. Madonna – Express Yourself

Much like some of the other icons here, picking just one Madonna song as a Pride anthem gets tricky. Still, we can’t help but go for Madge naked bobbing about on chair with a very hot man.

8. RuPaul – Supermodel

Ru has more than earned his right to land on this list, not the least of which with this dance-tastic song about looking fabulous.

9. The Weather Girls – It’s Raining Men

Rarely does it get gayer than this dance anthem. Any chance we could also have it reappointed as the National Anthem? Seriously, how great would it be to listen to before every Superbowl…

10. CeCe Peniston – Finally

The early 90s didn’t earn a reputation for great pop songs. An exception: this strut-worthy dance hit ready-made for drag shows.

11. ABBA – Dancing Queen

No doubt more than a few queens have busted a move to this ABBA standard. Surely, some queens will again.

12. Kylie Minogue – All The Lovers

Gay dance floors know well the songs of Ms. Minogue. We picked this over her others thanks to a super sexy video which features a bisexual love fest on a city street…ya know, something you might see at an actual Pride festival.

13. Sister Sledge – We Are Family

All members of the LGBT community–and their allies–come together to celebrate as one big queer family every Pride. So, get up everybody and sing this standard from Sister Sledge.

14. Cheryl Lynn – Got to Be Real

Pride’s a special time when the community comes together and celebrates our truth. Our love is here to stay, and we’ve got to be real.

15. The Village People – In the Navy

We know some of you will be wearing sailor suits to Pride. That’s not a complaint.

16. Divine – You Think You’re A Man

What’s better than a 300lbs. drag queen howling out a dance tune about sexual satisfaction?

17. Scissor Sisters – Don’t Feel Like Dancing

Possibly the gayest band of all time, the Scissor Sisters were never more irresistible than with this toe-tapper. Bonus: Lead singer Jake Shears gyrating.

18. Cyndi Lauper – True Colors

Every member of the community faces moments of fear and doubt. In times like that, the wisdom of Ms. Lauper encourages us all to love ourselves, which is exactly what Pride is all about.

19. Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out

Self-explanatory. What better time to come out than Pride.

20. Against Me – True Trans Soul Rebel

Leave it to a rock band with a transgender lead singer to pen the most rocking song on this list: a tune about rebelling and being yourself.

21. Lizzo – Juice

What says “Pride” more than an irresistible pop tune about body positivity and self-love?

22. Janet Jackson – Together Again

Ms. Jackson’s memorial to victims of AIDS shouldn’t be this poppy fun…but it is.

23. Heather Small – Proud

We’ve been in love since this tune landed on the Queer as Folk soundtrack. The title says it all.

24. Queen – Radio Gaga

The song that gave Lady Gaga her name belongs in the canon for that reason alone.

25. DWV – Boy is a Bottom

Ok, it’s a parody. Is it wrong that we enjoy three drag queens singing about closeted bottoms more than the original?

26. Stars on 54 –  If You Could Read My Mind

This near-forgotten track from the movie 54 in which Amber sings lead deserves more love.

27. Oliva Newton-Jon & ELO – All Over The World

“All Over the World” channels the feeling of fabulous solidarity we all love at Pride. That gives this tune from Xanadu a special place in our hearts.

28. Joan Jett – Do You Wanna Touch?

The bisexual rock goddess took this 70s rock standard and made it into a headbanging tune about seduction. We’re here for it.

29. Janelle Monae – Make Me Feel

While less homoerotic than her other track “Pynk,” Ms. Monae’s electropop jam about sexual tension puts us in the mood for a party…possibly because of the sexual tension we feel every year at Pride.

30. Chicago – All That Jazz

In the first place, we know you’ll all want to go paint the town. In the second, we know you’ve tried the Fosse walk whilst listening to this irrepressible tune.

31. Lil Nas X – “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)

Mr. X’s rebellion against a hyper-conservative, religious upbringing (with a title that references a classic queer movie to boot) plays like a battle cry to every queer kid that ever felt unloved or unattractive. The song inspired not one, but two wild videos: one featuring Nas X giving the devil a lapdance, and another of his pants-splitting, bare cheeked, neck-licking SNL performance is just an added bonus. Oh, for the record, we prefer the split pants.

32. Carly Rae Jepsen – Cut to the Feeling

Ms. Jepsen’s tune “Call Me Maybe” might have charted higher, though for our part, we revel in this mad, crazy, celebration of giving into love–and bursting into spontaneous dance–quite a bit more, especially at a pride festival.

33. Dame Shirley Bassey – Get the Party Started

What’s better than Dame Shirley Bassey belting out a James Bond theme? Try Dame Shirley belting out a Pink cover with a jazzy, regal dance floor burner. That she scored a major dancefloor hit at age 69 makes the song all the more impressive.

34. P!nk – So What

Speaking of P!nk, the Millennial Janis Joplin doesn’t get enough credit for songs that play to a queer fanbase–or queer protest (her ballad “Dear Mr. President” indicted George W. Bush on his oppression of LGBTQ people). That said, we prefer P!nk at her most upbeat, and this tune about being an unapologetic badass makes us ready to conquer the world…or to push back against ex-boyfriend drama.

35. Ariana Grande & Lady Gaga – Rain on Me

Ms. Grande has had more than a few hits that we could consider gay anthems, though none more so with this Lady Gaga collaboration (go figure). Think of “rain” as a metaphor for and run with it.

36. Deborah Cox – Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here (Dance Mix)

Possibly the ultimate gay dancefloor explosion of the 1990s, Ms. Cox’s wild vocals still pack a punch almost 30 years later. The lyrics, which suggest a troubled breakup, reluctant affair, or both, somehow seem to fit for any occasion.

37. Belinda Carlisle – Heaven is a Place on Earth

Maybe she knew she’d have a gay son? Belinda Carlisle had a smash with this solo hit about how love makes life into a utopian paradise. Hearing it at a pride festival just feels appropriate for some reason.

38. Crystal Waters – 100% Pure Love

We’ve always imagined this great 90s dance tune as a thinly veiled account of a late-night bootie call. That’s good enough for us.

39. Carl Bean – I Was Born This Way

The song that inspired Lady Gaga to write “Born This Way” doesn’t get enough credit–or playback–as one of the original gay anthems. We hope to rectify that oversight.

40. Robyn – Dancing On My Own

Much like many of the artists presented here, Robyn could fill her own compilation album of gay anthems. Given the number of us that have seen our crush/ex-boyfriend/actual boyfriend hooking up with someone else at the club, we opt to canonize this tune as a kind of commiseration…not to mention a vow to not let it bring us down.

31. Donna Summer & Barbra Streisand – No More Tears

This oft-forgotten collaboration between two gay icons deserves more love. “No More Tears” doesn’t quite get the attention it deserves since it came out at the end of the disco craze. Streisand herself, however, made it into something of an official queer anthem when she used it as a voter outreach song to the LGBTQ community during the 2020 Election. “Vote proud,” she urged. We did, and we’re pumping up the volume on the song.

32. Amii Stewart – Knock on Wood

We still can’t get enough of this disco anthem, complete with a psychedelic video of Ms. Stewart dressed like a showgirl. Call it an old-fashioned dance floor explosion that suggests she knew exactly who showed up to Studio 54.

33. Spice Girls – Wannabe

The Spice Girls got a lot of unfair hate for their unapologetic pop music, beginning with this 1996 smash hit. Given the choice between “Wannabe” and the explosion of overproduced wannabe pop that followed stateside in the ensuing years, we’ll stick with the spicey.

34. Elton John – Philadelphia Freedom

Sir Elton, grand diva of rock and pop music, could have any number of songs on this list. We’re naming “Philadelphia Freedom” as our pick, given that Elton has named Billie Jean King as an inspiration, and more importantly, her push for equality.

35. Todrick Hall – Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels

A post Drag Race queer anthem if ever there was one, Mr. Hall could inspire even the most butch, masc-for-masc type to bust out into voguing with this tune.

36. Louise – 2 Faced

Every gay in Britain just ripped his jock strap off and screamed as if ready for battle. Meanwhile, stateside, most of you just grunted “Who?” Louise never quite grabbed a foothold in the states, which is America’s loss: she’s a sexy, glamourous vocalist and purveyor of terrific pop. This hit single about gossip and false friends sounds like many a conversation overheard at the club. Crank it, and jump on the bandwagon.

37. Tina Turner, Cher & Elton John – “Proud Mary”

What’s better than gay icon and musical goddess Tina Turner belting out the ultimate barn-burning rock anthem? Try Ms. Turner rocking out with two additional gay icons in a live performance for the ages. Drag queens have long enjoyed doing this number; it’s a wonder it didn’t become some kind of international anthem after this rendition.

38. Hairspray – “You Can’t Stop The Beat”

Since Stonewall, LGBTQ people have stood at the forefront of social justice and the fight for equality. This Broadway finale stands for all those things too, and since it always features at least one man in drag, we think it’s earned a spot here. Our favorite version: the Hairspray: Live finale, which sees Harvey Firestein return to his Tony-winning role as Edna Turnblad, and features Ms. Jennifer Hudson again rocking the soundstage to its foundation.

39. The Supremes – “Keep Me Hanging On” (Almighty Remix)

We love the Supremes, and we love this song. Add a hardcore, thrashing beat into the mix, and you get this version which cries out for dancing and singing along at maximum volume. And there ain’t nothing we can do about it…

40. Liza Minnelli – “Cabaret”

What good is sitting all alone in your room? Ms. Minnelli called scores of queer folks out of the house (not to mention the closet) with this Earth-shattering, fierce belting, leg up tune. For fear that your speakers might actually burst into flames while listening, we recommend her rendition from her iconic Liza with a Z concert.

What are your faves? Name the best in the comments section and we’ll add to this list or compile another roundup.

Note: This article contains portions of a previous pride anthem list published here on Queerty.

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